January 16, 2012

Epitaphs and Frijoles

I was quizzed today, with mixed results. I was read this (apparently) famous epitaph, and asked if I knew whose it was:

Petrus eram
quem petra tegit
dictusque Comestor
nunc comedor.

Of course I guessed without too much trouble that this was the epitaph of the great Petrus Comestor. When the quiz then continued to his dates, my luck ran out.

"I was Peter, whom this stone covers, called the 'Eater,' now I am eaten.

"Comedor," in Latin, as a present passive indicative, makes the sense of 'I am eaten.' "Comedor" in the sorts of Spanish with which I'm familiar, usually means a dining room or a casual restaurant.

So now when I go out in the neighborhood here to eat Dominican food, I'll have to be reminded of the dissolution of old Peter's mortal remains.

It is said that they called him Peter the Eater because of his ability to devour books and knowledge, which he certainly did. But knowing how nicknames work among the clergy, I have strong suspicions that there may have been other senses.

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